Esther goes along with her friend’s candle-magic spell calling for a lover because a one-night stand just might help take her mind off Ryan Jameson. Her father died in the line of duty, and she has no plans to lose her heart to a firefighter who faces danger on a daily basis, no matter how hot he is. But it seems futile to resist when the spell starts to work its magick.
For as long as Ryan can remember, he’s had dreams of a woman with pale blue eyes, and when finds her in Burnt Cove, the connection between them is instantaneous. But the woman of his dreams seems bound and determined to keep him at arm’s length.
When a spell goes awry and gives them one night together, it’s all the opportunity he needs to convince her they’re meant to be.
Each book in the Spells, Secrets&Seductions series is a standalone story that can be enjoyed out of order.
Book #1 A Touch of Magick
Book #2 Dreams of Seduction
Book #3 Love in Flames
About the Author
Once upon a time N.J. had the idea that she would like to quit her job at the bookstore, sell everything she owned, leave her hometown, and write romance novels in a place where no one knew her. And she did. Two years later, she went back to the bookstore and her hometown and settled in for another seven years. One day she gave notice at her job on a Friday morning. On Sunday afternoon, she received a tentative acceptance for her first romance novel and life would never be the same.
N.J. Walters is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who has always been a voracious reader, and now she spends her days writing novels of her own. Vampires, werewolves, dragons, time-travelers, seductive handymen, and next-door neighbors with smoldering good looks—all vie for her attention. It’s a tough life, but someone’s got to live it.
Read an Excerpt
There was something special in the air tonight.
That thought popped into Esther Roberts's head as she strode down the sidewalk toward her friend's house. The air was nippy, but she enjoyed its crisp, fresh scent. Sucking in a deep breath, she allowed it to fill her lungs.
Leaves skittered across the sidewalk, swirling in the air before falling to the ground. October in Burnt Cove was quite lovely and Esther was glad that she'd moved here to take the job as dispatcher for the Burnt Cove Police Department.
She hitched her purse higher on her shoulder and kept a tight grip on the bottle of wine she was carrying as she hurried along. She didn't want to be late for dinner with her two best friends, Rhiannon Sparks and Maggie O'Neill.
The three women had met at Rhiannon's shop, A Touch of Magick. Esther loved to browse the books and gifts that her friend stocked in her store. And the chocolate treats she sold weren't too shabby either. Esther laughed, admitting that the Belgian dark chocolate was as big a draw as the books.
Maggie was just getting out of her car as Esther reached Rhiannon's cozy home. "Hi."
Maggie smiled and waved before reaching back into her car and lifting out a white bakery box. She used her hip to shut the car door and the two of them walked up the pathway together.
"Is that what I think it is?" Esther narrowed her eyes, trying to see inside the container.
Maggie nodded. "Cheesecake, fresh from Clancy's Bakery."
Esther barely suppressed her moan of pleasure. She adored cheesecake, but especially Clancy's cheesecake. The man was a genius in the kitchen.
Trying her best to ignore the cheesecake whispering her name, she made her way up the walkway. Rhiannon had several pumpkins on her front porch along with some stacks of hay, creating a festive harvest display for Halloween, which was only a little more than a week away. As she knocked, Esther admired the decorative corn tied with a ribbon that adorned the front door.
The door opened almost immediately and Rhiannon smiled, ushering them both inside. Esther hugged her friend, squashing the package between them. "I brought a bottle of white wine to go with supper. I didn't know what you were cooking, but I figured I couldn't go wrong with this." She stepped back and handed Rhiannon the bag before slipping off her coat and hanging it on a hook by the door. She watched her friends and smiled as they greeted one another.
Rhiannon, with her short black hair, pointy chin, amazing violet-blue eyes and slender build, reminded her of a fairy. Her friend seemed to have an endless supply of energy and enthusiasm for life, which was infectious.
Maggie was a tall, curvy redhead who rarely smiled. Life hadn't been easy on her friend the past few years and she was still dealing with a lot of issues.
Both her friends were very exotic looking. She, on the other hand, was average in height, had blue eyes and shoulder-length brown hair. The only thing that wasn't average was her breast size and that was a tad below normal.
Sighing, she followed the women into the kitchen. The delicious scents filling the air made her stomach grumble. They took turns hosting dinners at their homes, but she had to admit that neither she nor Maggie cooked Italian food quite as well as Rhiannon did.
"Hello, Abigail." Esther went straight to the cat that was curled up on the low windowsill in the dining area, rubbing her soft, gray head. Abigail purred, taking the greeting as her due.
"I swear that cat is more human than animal," Maggie remarked as she waited her turn to pet Abigail.
Rhiannon laughed. "She's got all of us wrapped around her dainty little paw." The other women laughed, but none of them disagreed. Rhiannon popped the cheesecake in the refrigerator before opening the bottle of wine and pouring three glasses. Esther gave Abigail one final scratch under the chin and wandered over to the counter to pick up a wineglass. "To us." Rhiannon toasted as she held up her glass.
"To us," Esther echoed back. Maggie picked up her glass and joined in the toast.
"So, what's new?" Rhiannon asked.
Esther hesitated slightly. Rhiannon well-honed instincts zoomed right in on her. "What?"
"Ryan asked me out again." Ryan was Ryan Jamieson, a new firefighter recently hired by the Burnt Cove Fire Department.
"And you said no again." Rhiannon paused and waited. Her friends were well-aware of her policy never to date firefighters.
"I said no. Again." She took a sip of her wine and plunked it down on the counter. "I won't go through what my mother did." Her father had been a firefighter and he'd died in the line of duty. Her brothers were firefighters as well. She was proud of them and what they did, but she also knew firsthand the toll the job took on family and loved ones. That was not what she wanted in her own life.
"Men are nothing but trouble." Esther turned to Maggie, not surprised by the bitterness in her tone. Maggie shrugged and rubbed her finger over the rim of her glass. "Neither one of you found your fiancé cheating on you with a supposed friend."
Maggie had experienced a lot of loss in the past year. Not only had she lost her parents in a car accident and her grandmother to old age, but Esther knew that the parting with her ex-boyfriend hadn't been pleasant either.
Rhiannon reached out and hugged Maggie. "I know it hasn't been an easy time for you, but I'm selfish enough to be glad that at least it brought you here. I'd never have met you otherwise and you're one of my best friends."
Tears welled in Esther's eyes and she sniffed. "Stop it you two. We're supposed to be eating, drinking and enjoying ourselves, not wallowing or getting maudlin."
Maggie chuckled and raised her glass. "You're absolutely right. No more bad thoughts."
That set the tone for the rest of the evening as the women dug into the food, eating, talking and laughing. Esther savored each mouthful of the incredibly spicy, cheesy lasagna that Rhiannon had prepared, along with several slices of crusty garlic bread and more of the crisp white wine.
For dessert, they each devoured a huge slice of the New York style cheesecake that Maggie had brought. She'd have to spend an extra hour or two on the treadmill to work off this meal, but it was so worth it.
Abigail sat on the windowsill as they ate, overseeing the proceedings, but took herself off to another room when they started laughing and generally getting loud.
"What we need is to get laid." Rhiannon's pronouncement stunned Esther. Her friend wasn't the promiscuous type, none of them were, but they were all healthy women with a normal sex drive.
As if her friend's words had reminded her body of that fact, it stirred to life. Her nipples tightened and her sex began to throb. The image of a naked man with wide shoulders and abs of steel popped into her head. His hands would be slightly rough. A working man's hands. She could almost feel the pads of his fingers skimming over her heated body, drawing moans of pleasure from her as he went.
In her fantasies, the man had no face because he didn't exist except in her imagination. Lately though, she'd caught glimpses of her fantasy man and he looked a lot like Ryan Jamieson. Too much, in fact. She'd obviously been alone for way too long.
Esther squirmed in her seat, trying to ignore the fact that she was creaming her panties. "How much wine have you had?" She set her own glass of wine aside as she tried to remember the last time she'd had sex. It had been long before she'd moved to Burnt Cove. She winced when she realized it had been well over two years. Where the heck had the time gone?
Rhiannon seemed to think about her question, squinting at the now empty bottle. "Enough, but not too much."
"You're crazy." Maggie raised her glass in salute before sipping.
"No." Rhiannon shook her head. "Esther needs some guy to get her mind off Ryan. You need to get your mind off your ex- fiancé."
"What about you?" she asked her friend.
"Me?" Rhiannon laughed. "I just need to get laid." That set the three of them off into peals of laughter. Esther couldn't believe her business-minded friend was saying such things. As far as she knew, Rhiannon hadn't dated since she'd moved here.
"No, really," Rhiannon continued when she finally caught her breath. "What we all need is one or two nights of hot, sweaty, grinding sex. It's good for you." She nodded decisively. "It's a medical fact."
Esther shook her head, marveling at Rhiannon's thought process. Only she could convince herself that it was the right thing to do for medical reasons. Although, perhaps her friend had a point. All these repressed feelings couldn't be good for a body. A vibrator was fine, to a point, but nothing replaced hot, sweaty sex. She began to perspire just thinking about it.
"It's fine in theory," Maggie began. "But it's not that easy to find a good man that you'd want to do —" she motioned with her hand, "— that with."
"Sex, Maggie. Sex." Rhiannon stood and began to clear the dishes from the table. "And there are ways to attract what you want."
"What? We should cast a spell or something?" Esther teased her friend.
Rhiannon rinsed the dishes and stared piling them in the dishwasher. "Why not?"
"Come on," Maggie stared at her. "You don't really believe that works, do you?"
Rhiannon froze, her hands poised in midair. Taking a deep breath, she faced them both. "I do believe. I'm a witch."
"Of course you are." Esther nodded. "It was obvious the first time we met." Rhiannon looked fey and obviously had a different way of viewing the world.
Rhiannon dragged her fingers through her short, black hair as she made her way back to the table. "No, I'm not Wiccan." All humor fled as she raised her arms above her. The air began to stir and a breeze began to blow around them. "I'm really a witch."
Esther blinked and Maggie gasped as the candles flickered out, plunging them into darkness. Esther held her breath as she waited in the dark, wondering what would happen next. She could hear Rhiannon mumbling and then the overhead light came on. She blinked, staring at her friend.
"How did you do that?" Maggie asked.
"I'm a witch. Not a very good one," Rhiannon added honestly. "But I come from a very long line of them." She chewed on her bottom lip, her agitation plain. "Say something," she pleaded.
Esther was still trying to figure out exactly what she'd seen and felt. She wasn't sure what she believed, but something had sure as heck just happened. "So you can really do stuff. Like in Bewitched?"
Rhiannon wrinkled her nose. "Not quite like the television program. That's fiction. But my family does have skills."
Esther nodded slowly, trying to assimilate it all. Whether she believed or not was irrelevant. Rhiannon believed she was a witch and that was all that mattered. She'd known the other woman for almost a year now and really liked her. In spite of her fey appearance, Rhiannon was incredibly grounded and practical. Beyond that, Esther trusted her. If her friend said she was a witch, then she was a witch. She had no idea just what that entailed, but it didn't change how she felt about her. "Okay."
"Okay?" Instead of reassuring her friend, her answer had only seemed to upset Rhiannon further.
"Yes, okay." Esther stood and began to finish clearing the table, needing to do something to work off the adrenaline surging through her body. She was still a bit freaked out by the whole wind-blowing-out-the-candles thing. "My family isn't exactly without its oddities."
She scraped a plate, letting the debris fall into the garbage before setting it down on the counter. Opening her mouth, secrets of her own came spilling out before she could stop herself. "There's a legend in my family of a great love that was cut short by a fire that killed one of them. It's said that they will be reincarnated at some point in the future and find one another."
"That's so sad," Maggie sighed.
"It is." Esther picked up the plate and rinsed it with brisk motions. "There's even a journal that has been handed down through the women in the family for generations. It was started by my however-many-greats grandmother."
"That's incredible." Rhiannon looked as if she wanted to say something else, but refrained. Esther was glad. She had no idea why she was telling them this. It wasn't as if she believed in the legend. Not really. And she certainly didn't want to talk about it.
She'd been having dreams lately. Disturbing dreams, filled with passion, sex, fire and death. The fact that the man in the dream looked exactly like Ryan Jamieson only added to her aggravation. She knew the dreams were tied into the journal, yet they wouldn't stop and instead had been growing in frequency. She'd been hoping that tonight would allow her to forget all about them.
She listened with one ear as Maggie and Rhiannon talked, not really paying attention, but she could feel the tension surrounding her two friends. Her thoughts were consumed by the dreams that haunted her every night when she went to bed.
Rhiannon broke the tension when she spread her arms wide and announced, "I still think we all need to get laid."
They all laughed again and the mood in the kitchen lightened. "What do you propose?" Esther had to admit that she was intrigued by the idea. Plus she wanted something, anything, to take her mind off of the damn dreams and Ryan Jamieson.
"Something simple. Like I said, I'm not a very good witch. I've got issues."
Maggie giggled. "You need a self-help group or something."
Esther barely managed to suppress her laughter, not wanting to hurt Rhiannon's feelings.
Rhiannon just threw back her head and laughed. The sound was infectious and both she and Maggie couldn't help but join in.
Holding her stomach and still giggling, Rhiannon went to the large oak cabinet that dominated almost one entire wall of the dining area. Opening a drawer, she began to dig around. Esther tried to see what Rhiannon took, but her friend held everything tight in her hands. She could see the ends of three red candles, but nothing more.
Items gathered, Rhiannon turned to them. "Let's go outside. The moon is almost full and will add power to our spell." She headed out the back door, and Esther followed with Maggie tight on her heels.
Esther was grateful that there was enough light from the moon and stars to light their way. Abigail slipped out with them and raced ahead, down the steps and into the secluded yard. She smiled at the cat. Maybe Abigail was searching for a male companion too.
She gazed around the garden and took it all in. Rhiannon's yard was lovely with its variety of mature trees. The fact that she had no close neighbors gave it a feeling of privacy. It was like being tucked away from the world.
"So what do we do?" She stood on Rhiannon's right in the center of the garden, watching everything her friend did.
Rhiannon handed both her and Maggie a red votive candle. "First, we'll anoint the red candles with rose oil. Both are representative of passion."
That made sense to her. Red and roses were associated with Valentine's Day and love in general.
"Start in the middle of the candle and stoke down to the bottom."
Esther pulled her wandering thoughts back and made herself to pay attention to what Rhiannon was saying.
"When you're finished, go back to the middle and then stroke the oil up to the top of the candle."
Clasping her candle in her left hand, she took the rose oil and began to rub it into the candle. She wished she'd taken the time to get her coat, but protected by the trees like they were, it wasn't too cold, just a bit chilly. Hopefully this wouldn't take too long.
Rhiannon continued her instructions. "As you do this, think about the kind of man you'd want to have sex with. Be specific without naming a person."
"Why?" Maggie stopped what she was doing and asked the question that Esther had been thinking.
"Because you should never try to manipulate anyone. That's bad. What you want to do is draw someone with the characteristics you want. They'll only come if they're willing."
That made sense. Esther continued to rub oil on her candle, concentrating fiercely. She wanted a lover — one who was strong and honest, a man who made her smile and laugh. Ryan popped into her head. She groaned and tried to stop thinking about him. The harder she tried to put him out of her mind, the harder it became. "Stubborn man," she muttered as she continued to spread oil onto the red candle. Sex, she reminded herself. She wanted to have mind-blowing sex with her dream lover.
Excerpted from "Love in Flames"
Copyright © 2011 N.J. Walters.
Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
try to read in order.